Some academic libraries are consolidating their circulation and reference desks into single service points. The librarians at one academic library undertook a study to determine if such a consolidation would affect their reference service. They analyzed the number and type of questions asked during times when a librarian was physically present at the reference desk and compared it to the number and type of questions asked when a librarian was "on call" (not present at the desk, but available to be called to the service desk to answer reference questions) over a period of seven academic semesters. This article reports on the methodology used to collect and analyze the data and the researchers’ findings. The results show that true reference questions remained steady whether or not the reference desk was staffed. The implications are important at a time when libraries are moving to single service desks staffed by non-librarians and are unsure of the efficacy of this model.


Library and Information Science